As the name suggests, performance anxiety describes feeling anxious or self-conscious about the quality of your performance in any area of your life.
This concern and self-doubt can in turn increase anxiety and affect your performance. It is a very common problem where people are required to perform to certain standards, and can often be the result of general stress. Of course, a little apprehensiveness is quite normal, and arguably a good thing, to stimulate adrenaline to encourage good performance.
However, in extreme cases this can dramatically affect the quality of people's lives. They may fear making a fool of themselves in public, or have extreme problems with exams, with public speaking, with artistic or sporting events, or with sexual performance.
Diagnosis of performance anxiety can be confirmed by a doctor, who may refer you to a counsellor, cognitive behaviour therapist or hypnotherapist for further help.
Some people are able to address this problem themselves through positive visualisation techniques or by reviewing what might go wrong and devising scenarios where they find a way to cope.
Hypnotherapy can help with this process by developing behavioural techniques that progressively focus on the problem until the sufferer has confronted the worst outcome and, having faced it, is able to learn the coping skills to deal with the situation in the future. Removing the fear makes it possible to overcome performance anxiety. Other relaxation techniques, such as yoga, massage, reflexology, 't'ai chi or aikido may also help.
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